Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Tracie Mauriello, covering her first political convention, discovers that duct tape can be good for the sole.
My feet are giving out already and the convention hasn’t even started. I’ve gone through my supply of Band-Aids and moved on to a half-used roll of duct tape discarded by protesters. Other than that, I'm working hard and having fun in Tampa.
Here’s how my Sunday went:
After five hours of restless sleep, I headed to the hotel lobby where Pennsylvania delegates were milling about, collecting their credentials and looking ahead. Several planned events – including the first day of the actual convention – were postponed or canceled because of the threat of severe weather. I grabbed a cup of coffee and reconnected with friends from Harrisburg, where I worked for seven years before moving to Washington.
Several Pennsylvania reporters met up at 10 a.m. and we went together to pick up our convention credentials and parking passes. There was a mix-up with the Post-Gazette credentials. The Senate Daily Press Gallery, which controls the credentials, had been expecting my editor to pick them up, not me. Well, that wasn’t going to happen; she’s in Pittsburgh! Fortunately, gallery director Joe Keenan knows me from my work in Washington, and he straightened out the problem pretty quickly.
Next, photographer Steve Mellon and I set out to find a group of protesters from Pittsburgh. A combination of blocked streets and a poor sense of direction had us walking in circles for more than an hour, and we found the protesters just as they were heading out on their march. (Oh, my feet!) I interviewed a few Pittsburghers, tweeted a bit, scavenged that roll of duct tape and moved on to my next stop, the historic Tampa Theater, where the Faith & Freedom Coalition was sponsoring a rally. The theater was only three blocks away, which was fortunate -- it was starting to drizzle.
I found a great perch in the back of the theater where I could pull out my laptop and knock out a couple quick blog posts during the opening choral performance.
The stream of speakers included former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose remarks will come in handy for a broader issue piece I’m planning to write later this week. There was a bit of excitement when protesters unfurled an anti-Walker banner from the balcony and were promptly ejected. (See Steve's video, here.)
— Tracie Mauriello (@pgPoliTweets) August 26, 2012
As Scott Walker was introduced protesters, who had been silent, dropped a large banner from balcony. Can't read it.
Steve met me at the theater and we hopped a cab to the Log Cabin Republicans party at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant about nine miles
away. I got some good interviews to flesh out this enterprise piece I’ve been working on about the generational divide over gay marriage within the Republican Party, and Steve got some photos and video. (Video below.)
We got back to the hotel at 8 p.m. and realized that the only thing we’d eaten all day were donuts – one each -- so we decided to set up shop in the hotel bar. Out came the laptops and we set to work – taking one short break to eat our sandwiches and another to say hello to Pennsylvania’s House majority leader who was having a beer with friends.
I filed my story at 9 p.m. then e-mailed a photo I’d taken to Steve, who said he may be able to use it online.
My last stop was to an ice cream social downstairs in the hotel. I said hello to the delegates I knew, introduced myself to the ones I didn’t and collected cell phone numbers so I can reach them later in the week. I also spent a few minutes talking with Pennslvania First Lady Sue Corbett and wound up with a tidbit for a blog post.
I never did get my rain boots, but I did find my way to a CVS where I picked up a car charger with adapters for both my cell phone and iPad. If we lose power in the storm, I’ll be able to use a colleague’s rental car to keep my essentials powered. As for my feet, there’s always duct tape.
If you’re keeping score:
Blog posts: 9
Earlier Blog Posts
The Newbie: Well-Laid Plans and the Weather
August 26, 2012
The Newbie: Local Quotes and Carrot Cake
August 25, 2012
The Newbie: Blog posts: 1, Coffees: 3
August 24, 2012
The Newbie: Is she ready?
August 23, 2012
Journalist Hacking Raises Awareness for Cyber-Security
August 10, 2012